Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Name That Gargoyle!

Today I’m picking up a subject I’ve left alone for a while: words and video games. My goal is to use the power of the internet to answer a little linguistic mystery that has puzzled me for a while.

A short video game history lesson: Back in the day, Capcom (the people who made Street Fighter) released a side-scrolling arcade game, Ghosts ’n Goblins, which featured a knight hopping through what essentially amounts to a tacky Halloween haunted house landscape. Being a coin-operated game, the head-bashingly difficult Ghosts ’n Goblins aimed to overwhelm the player with countless undead monsters, assuredly killing the knight and forcing the the player to dump quarter after after quarter into the machine in order to progress. Despite that, the game caught on and spawned a lot of sequels and spin-offs, including some that starred the original game’s first-level boss, a nasty red gargoyle. In the spin-offs, you could even play as the gargoyle, jumping around, doing typical gargoyle stuff. As it stands now, the gargoyle may have appeared as a playable character more often that the original knight protagonist has.

He used to look like this:

But advancing video game technology has allowed him to look like this:

Now the wordy part: In the American release of the first gargoyle-centric game, the character was called Firebrand. (Good gargoyle name!) But the character’s original, Japanese name was something that gets rendered in English as Red Arremer. (Confusing!) Now, both Japanese and American games use the latter name. (Feel ways about it!)

And, finally, the confusing part: For the life of me, I can’t figure out what this name means. I could mean nothing, sure, and it could be a Japanese word that just translates like something that looks like an English word. But given that it has the word red in it and the character itself is red, I’m willing to bet that the name is English, translated into Japanese and then reproduced back in English in a way that makes it unrecognizable. Is it some variation on ream? (Parallel thoughts: “Don’t get ruined by the word ream, childhood memories!” but also “Ha ha, ream.”) But the character doesn’t bore any holes or, you know, engage in buttplay, so I think the answer lies elsewhere. I know that translating between English and Japanese can mean the insertion of vowels in between the consonants and that whole fluidity with the letters “L” and “R,” but I can’t switch the letters around in any way that makes more sense in English. Reamle? Lemul? Lemur? Could it be Armor? Nothing. What the hell is Arremer supposed to mean?

So then, internet — language-keen and video game-savvy people who frequent this blog, I’m looking at you — can you make anything from this? There is a theory that the a possible way to find obscure information online is to simply post somewhere what you don’t know and let the answer come to you, and I’m willing to try put this tactic to gargoyle-related use.

In closing, three more word-related thoughts on this game series:
  • After Ghosts ’n Goblins came a sequel, Ghouls ’n Ghosts, but the alliteration stopped there, unforch, but I guess forcing the pattern would have resulted in games like Geists ’n Ghastly Things We Didn’t Put in the Last Game, so maybe it’s for the best.
  • The series’s Japanese name is Makaimura, which translates to “Demon World Village,” the last word of which sounds not only redundant but also oddly cute to me. Like, “Ooh! Scary place where demons come from! … But look! They’re churning butter!”
  • Yeah, the apostrophe looks wrong to me too. It should be Ghosts ’n’ Goblins, since both the “a” and “d” in and got contracted into oblivion.
  • Of course, the heroic knight from the original games is chasing after a damsel. Tragically, this game’s leading lady got stuck with the name Princess Prin-Prin, which is just embarrassing.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Nicole Kidman: Striving for the Middle

When I saw Batman Forever back in theaters, I left feeling a little annoyed — not as much as when I saw Batman & Robin, about which everything critical has already been written, but bothered still because the film invented a new love interest. The first movie had Vicki Vale, the second Selina Kyle, but the third had a Batlove who hadn’t previously existed in the comics: the Nicole Kidman character, Dr. Chase Meridian. I didn’t like that, and even as a kid I was bothered by her name. Seriously? Chase Meridian? She sounded like a bank or a watchmaking company or maybe a codename from a James Bond movie.

Well, her name still sucks and all, but today I found out it can be read as a pun. As Wikipedia explains it, Kidman’s character falls in love with both Bruce Wayne and Batman, and rather than settling for one or the other she tries to integrate the two halves of Batsy’s self into one. So, in a sense, she’s chasing the “meridian” of Bruce Wayne’s personality. Dr. Chase Meridian. A little on-the-nose, sure, but not so obvious that I got it right away. I mean, I saw the movie on opening day back in June of 1995 and it took me fifteen-and-a-half years to get it — and I had still had to have it pointed out to me.

So there’s that.

Oh and Rachel Dawes, by the way, means “I liked her better once they blew her up” in… some language… Oh, finish the joke yourself.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Family That Didn’t Know the Meaning of the Word “Cancelled”

I knew about the various Brady Bunch spin-offs, but I’d never seen the opening titles from The Brady Brides until today. And I wish I hadn’t.

It would be self-parody if it displayed the merest hint of self-awareness. There are no words. Only the image of me sitting here and pondering the sentence “This happened.” It actually makes the opening credits to the next spin-off in the series — the Thirtysomething-esque The Bradys — look better by comparison.

Though you have to question the logic in crediting not-the-Marcia, Leah “Bloodsport” Ayres before the five, non-fraudulent Brady children. Not to talk up The Bradys all that much. “Men with mustaches don’t run for office.” The hell?

A Most Unusual Ejaculation

If you ever see an honest-to-god verbatim transcript of someone talking, you will realize how often words are spoken in a jumbled, ungrammatical order. People interrupt themselves over and over in order to clarify, to redirect and to better convey their message. As listeners, we tend to iron out these conversational bumps and turn the string of words into a something intelligible, more or less mentally “fixing it in post.” Even then, however, there are certain words designed specifically to stop a sentence’s flow, and I realized today that I’d never written about these parts of speech. So, then, here is strangest English interjection I could find.
ochanee (something like ə-HAH-nee or ə-HOH-nee or eck-AH-nee, depending on whether you’re English, Irish or American) — interjection: an expression of great sorrow.
I found this one on Ben Schott’s Daily Lexeme feature over at the New York Times. Schott notes that the word is a variation of the better-known but still-pretty-rare ochone (pronounced “əh-KHON”), meaning about the same as ochanee. Can I use this strange and wonderful word in a sentence? Why yes, I can! Or, rather, the Schott-cited A.F. Irvine can: “Ay, dearie, I know rightly we’ll meet, but ochanee, it’ll be out there beyond th’ meadows an’ th’ clouds.”

According to the OED, the word basically means “oh dear me,” but this word is so different from the type of American interjections I’m used to hearing — the top three being donchaknow, va-va-va-voom and yes-indeedio — that I can’t imagine it completely stealing focus from every other part of the sentence and only elicited the response, “What the hell did you just say?” It actually reminds me a lot of a word I had to know back when I studied Latin, eheu, an interjection similarly used to express woe but which also strikes my ears as hopelessly weird-sounding. Ochanee! What a loss!

Some quick, interjection-related trivia that I picked up while writing this post: The Irish begorra is just a minced version of by God. I was reminded that common swears in ancient Rome were gender-based, with women crying out ecastor (literally “by Castor!” in reference two one half of the Gemini) and men crying out edepol (literally “by Pollux!” in references to Castor’s twin). And as if you needed another reason to think Cockney rhyming slang was the stupidest invention ever, there’s an entry at Wiktionary for I should cocoa, which is Cockney rhyme for “I should say so.” Only, you know, cuter. And far, far stupider.

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Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Obscene Carrot


Taken from PCL LinkDump and reposted here because, honestly, no blog could ever be complete without this grotesque, pubic carrot.

Sexy plants, previously:

A Deep-Ass Groove (Or “Broke-Ass,” But in a Dignified Manner)

I guess I’ll just ride out the weekend on strange and wonderful words. For today, one that I just learned, that isn’t hard to pronounce, that means exactly what you think it might and that may well prove useful in various Craigslist postings.
rumpsprung (RUMP-sprung) — adjective: 1. (of furniture) having worn upholstery or collapsed springs as a result of overuse. 2. poorly dressed.
There you go: a very specific word that you’d nonetheless still have occasion to use. And it has rump right in there, which is actually how the thing you’re saying is rumpsprung got that way: from having a rump in there. As much as I like the five-, ten, and fifty-dollar words that you’d only ever need to know in the context of the GREs, the rare but simple (and butt-related) words that I enjoy most. You could actually use these and be understood by people listening to you, for one, and they prove that words don’t have to sound or look exotic in order to be special.

At least not outside-of-English exotic, though rumpsprung may only be familiar to speakers of certain types of English. No definitions for the word appear in the online Webster, American Heritage, Wiktionary or even Dictionary.com. Some Oxford dictionaries have rumpspring, however, and Wordnik also has it, though only with the definition “poorly dressed” and the vague note that this usage is “Southern.” I’d guess that the literal, furniture-related usage came first, and then connotations of general shabbiness expanded the definition to include people and their clothes as well.

However, I should also point out that this word came to my attention through a certain someone’s mother, who used to refer not only to the state of a garment but also to the presence of an ass groove: She had mentioned someone as wearing “an old, orange mink so rumpsprung that she looks like someone’s cook,” which easily ranks among the best-ever shorthand explanations for a person’s character.

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Friday, November 26, 2010

Vocabulary for the Triply Stuffed

Probably the last concept some of you would want to think about the morning after Thanksgiving, yet a timely new word nonetheless:
cherpumple (chur-PUM-pul) — noun: a pastry desert consisting of a layer of cherry pie, a layer of pumpkin pie and an a layer of apple pie.
Etymology not necessary, or so I’d like to think. It goes without saying that, at least verbally and seasonally, cherpumple is the dessert equivalent of turducken, that other Greek mythology monster of a dish that mashes three types of poultry into a single form. No, the apple component isn’t enclosed by the pumpkin component and the pumpkin not by the cherry, but you have to admit that the comparison still works. I learned about this fascinating, horrifying item on Fritinancy, a great blog for all things verbal, on which the item was actually described as being even more fattening: cherry layer inside white cake, apple layer inside yellow cake, pumpkin layer inside spice cake, with all three stories wrapped in cream cheese frosting.

There’s even a picture, courtesy of the blog This Is Why You’re Fat:

Both the recipe and the name seemed to have been invented by Charles Phoenix, a SoCal personality who I first learned about on Tharpe-Tharpe’s blog from his guided tours of downtown Los Angeles. He even released a video explaining the creation of this Frankencake, which he boasted to the Wall Street Journal “puts the kitsch in kitchen.”

As if that weren’t enough to process after your yearly late-November gorging, I’ll give you one more: Fritinancy revealed to me the existence of what is essentially turducken + 1, an even more intimidating entity known as turbaconducken.

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Thursday, November 25, 2010

It’s a (Sexy) Secret to Everybody

Not the least bit Thanksgiving-related, but worth posting anyway:

From Game & Graphics, but inspired by this post on this very blog.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Things I Saw Along Interstate Five Today

A list that Thanksgiving made possible:

Low-lying shrubs that I could have seen virtually anywhere else in the state

A lot of open space

A thousand shades of gray

Other annoyed drivers

Most of the least interesting parts of California

White spots that looked like snow but that I suspect were, in fact, blank spaces that God left undone simply because he got bored while designing this part of the world

Tangible despair, dripping from the branches of bare trees like some kind of exotic, toxic moss

A pungent fecal smell that, yes, I could actually see in the form of green-brown clouds rolling across the landscape

Eventually, an oppressive and enveloping darkness that I call The Void

Death himself, beckoning to me from a pomello stand

Monday, November 22, 2010

The English Language and Digestive Illness

A query about spelling: The plural of scarf is scarves, but the spelling doesn’t change when you’re talking about the verb scarf, meaning “to eat quickly.” You would say, “When my dog is hungry he scarfs down all his food,” not “scarves down all this food.” Why would the letter change only in the noun? Is it because the verb scarf is slang? Doesn’t the switch from “F” to “V” happen in order to make the word easier to pronounce? The similar sounding dwarf can pluralize to dwarves (though I think some people might use dwarfs), but it stays as dwarfs as a verb, as in “The new building dwarfs the ones around it.” But then again, morph stays the same — or would, perhaps if you were speaking about Power Rangers and counting transformations: “one morph, two morphs.” Does it stay the same because its “F” sound is represented with something other than the letter “F”? Or am I approaching this completely wrongheaded?

By the way, I arrived at this mystery by trying to figure out what the correct plural for barf would be, as in “one barf, two barfs.” Barves? I mean, I know it’s not, but I kind of wish it were barves.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Broccoli-Flavored Frosting (On Still Not Feeling Gleeful)

I don’t like Glee.

Though a simple internet search would turn up plenty of hatred, frustration and accusation of shark-jumping for Glee, I still feel like the admission that I don’t like this popular show puts me in a category with people who kick puppies or people who or who steal the ratty clothes off the backs of Dickensian orphans. Why? I’m not sure. I suppose the general public believes that Glee means well and that we should all support it, even if it’s not our cup of tea. But it’s not my cup of tea. Like, I wanted tea and I ordered tea but instead I got dirty rainwater served in an old coffee can. And now I’m reluctant to order tea from this establishment ever again.

My frustration with Glee stems from the fact that I thought I would like it. I enjoy Ryan Murphy, and I watched Nip/Tuck even went it lost any pretense of social commentary and instead just tried to elicit a reaction of “Holy fuck, I can’t believe I’m watching this.” And I liked Popular. And though I’m not especially keen on musicals, they have their place and, if done correctly, may not necessarily suck. So I when the pilot for Glee aired in May, before the series debuted the following September, I watched it. My reaction: “There is no way this show will ever catch on.”

But, of course, Glee became a surprise hit and I was reminded that I don’t think like most people. Since then, I’ve caught the occasional episode, and even made a point to watch the Rocky Horror episode because I adore The Rocky Horror Picture Show and figured there’d be no way I would regret the forty-five minutes it would take to watch Glee’s take on it. (#wrongagain) And while I have a long list of complaints with the series — If I’m supposed to like Rachel, then why does the show seem to try so hard to make her seem unpleasant and underserving of my support? Why are they still adding characters when they have yet to give me a reason to care about original characters like Tina or Mercedes? What could they do to make me care about Mr. Scheuster again? Why did they Nerf an unabashed villain like Sue Sylvester by giving her a developmentally disabled sister? Why does Glee seem to task Chris Colfer’s acting, singing and all-around performing abilities harder than any other actor on the show? — I think I finally realized what my biggest gripe with the show is. I don’t get the rules.

It’s like this. I love Community. I think it’s funny, but I really enjoy that it has this fantastical element that allows the writers to pull of plots that most shows couldn’t. The underlying silliness allows Community to go in whatever direction it choses, and provided it doesn’t confront the audience with a “serious” episode — something especially heartfelt or something that halts the onslaught of punchlines, like if Annie’s drug addiction returned and it was was used as anything other than a source of comedy. I’m even fine with a show introducing a ridiculous situation and basically saying, “Okay, this is something that can happen in this universe. Go with it.” I mean, a friend pointed out to me that Community’s premise — Jeff being sentenced to community college for after getting caught practicing law without a license — is hokey and implausible in that sitcommy way Seinfeld parodied with Jerry’s failed show-within-the show, which had a judge ordering someone to work as someone else’s butler. But taken from the get-go as a founding element of Community, I can accept this premise. I watch. I laugh. I enjoy.

To use a cliche to explain how I view Glee, I’d say that the writers are either pissing down both legs or trying to have their cake and eat it too. Maybe it’s both: pissing on both cakes while eating them, which would be hard to do and maybe that’s why I don’t think the show works. It wants to be fantastical and whimsical and OMG-anything-can-happen!!! and all that, but it still tries for those life lessons and those Oprah-style “a-ha” moments. But given how flighty and silly the show is otherwise, these serious parts strike me as hollow. The “Grilled Cheesus” episode this season totally frustrated me, because though I feel like Colfer did a nice job acting out Kurt’s grief, the plotline seemed to me more like the result of some higher-up’s decision to do a “serious” episode than an any sort of thoughtful rumination on life, death and religion. And two weeks after that heavy-handed mess, the TV viewers who had been asked to accept a realistic, dramatic situation were then asked to swallow the notion of a small-town high school mounting a production of Rocky Horror, despite everything about Rocky Horror, in the span of seven days. For me, that’s too much. The Gleeverse is lacking focus and coherence.

I’ve noticed other things that point to “rule violations” or possibly even a lack of rules altogether: More recently, the show crammed a realistic bullying storyline into an episode that also featured an all-boys academy singing an a cappella rendition of “Teenage Dream” … and then getting embraced by their fellow students for doing it. Like, fine — fantasy is great, but it just cannot be that bullying could be a problem in the same universe where any high school’s all-male choir to could cover Katy Perry and not themselves become the victims of horrendous bullying. Going back to the “Rocky Horror” episode, it seems like Emma Pillsbury broke a role by bursting into “Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch-a Touch Me,” even though most musical numbers are diegetic. If people in the Glee world can just spontaneously start singing in the manner of characters in typical musicals, shouldn’t this musically inclined bunch be doing that all the time? And why the hell were Mr. Schue and Gwynneth Paltrow’s character performing on stage with the students in the “Singin’ in the Rain”-“Umbrella” mash-up?

I guess, then, Glee should get points for ambition, but I’m too bothered by the inconsistency to enjoy the show even when it does something right. (And it does get things right, I’ll admit. Brittany S. Pierce is brilliant, in her way, and the show knows how to use her perfectly. Gwyneth Paltrow as Mary Todd Lincoln? Amazing.) In the Weekend Update following this year’s VMAs, Seth Meyers pointed out the awkwardness of Lady Gaga speaking to congress about repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” mere days after she wore a dress made of raw meat: “It’s very hard to be the girl in the meat suit on Sunday and the voice of reason on Tuesday,” he said. The logic applies to Glee as well. You can be frosting or you can be broccoli, but when you try to be both, you’ll never truly succeed. You can’t be escapism most of the time and then act like your characters exist in this grounded, functional world and then expect me to buy all of it.

With all that said, I’m doing giving Glee second chances. I’m just not going to make the effort to watch it anymore, despite protestations from must of my friends and a curiously large percentage of those whose opinions I actually value. Glee can be broccoli-flavored frosting on its own, and everyone else can continue eating it up. I, meanwhile, am going to start working though backlog of Modern Family, Fringe, The Walking Dead and other TV universes that make more sense to me.

Law & Foreshadowing

Remember the episode of Seinfeld on which Jerry and George sit in on auditions for Jerry, the failed show-within-the-successful show? Remember the actress who tries out for the part of Elaine and insults George by comparing to the waiting room of actors trying out for his role a “baldness convention”? Lo and behold — that was a younger and much more feminine-looking Mariska Hargitay, now super famous for starring on Law & Order: SVU.

Even weirder: The scene has her walking into the room with a poster of the original Law & Order cast visible over her shoulder.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Ghost in the Glass

I am so into this photograph.

And though I can reasonably explain away the horrible screaming face in the window pane, I still keep looking. (Via Tokyo Times.)

“Full of Shit,” But Stated Politely

A fruitful word of the week:
pruniferous (proo-NIF-er-us) — adjective: of a tree or shrub: bearing stone fruits.
The word, which I found on the New York Times’s Daily Lexeme, has fallen out of use, though historically it referred plants that grew plums, cherries, peaches, apricots and other fruit with a single, hard pit in the middle. Even the term stone fruit strikes me as strange, though. Despite having grown up in a part of California famous for this sort of produce, I only ever heard people call the thing in the middle a pit. I mean, that’s why the Beverly Hills, 90210 kids hung out at the Peach Pit and not the Peach Stone, right?

I think the word should make a comeback. If that happens with its old, agricultural definition, fine, but I’d personally like to see it become a more polite way to slam people, kind of in the style of how meretricious allows you to insult most women to their face without them realizing. (“Why Diane, you’re looking quite meretricious today!”) Etymologically, the word combines the Latin prunum, “plum,” and a form of the verb ferre, “to carry.” And while that makes sense for plum trees, it sounds a lot like the English idiom full of prunes, which you’d use to describe a person talking nonsense. Actually, that phrase works a lot like another, more popular one, full of shit, which describes a dishonest person. The connection between prunes and shit is well-known enough that I don’t think I need to explain how pruniferous could take on the sense of claptrap, jibber-jabber, and all those other great terms we use for words that don’t mean anything. Example: “Upon close inspection, the candidate’s speech proved to be occasionally misleading and wholly pruniferous.” By which I mean that the candidate is full of shit.

Things I wouldn’t have expected to write when I started this blog: This isn’t the first entry I’ve put up about prunes and plums. Last year, I looked up the history of the prune and plum to figure out which has meant, and whether buying dried plums was any different than buying prunes, and what the connection is between prunes and the verb to prune. (Short answers: More or less the same, not really, and no, even when you’re pruning a prune tree.)

Apparenlty, I am once again Professor Plum.

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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Solid Potato Salad

Ignore the poor video quality and the nonsensical song lyrics. (What the hell does solid potato salad taste like, anyway?) Just give this video a chance and stick with the 40s-fantastic singers until they get to the contortion.

It takes something kitschy and gets surreal real fast — and then borders on horrifying.

(Via Holly’s Facebook.)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Justice, Shadows, Italians and Other Abstract Nouns

I guess the theme for this week is “strange pop cultural connections I should have made with a certain Italian horror movie years ago.” This might seem like a strange theme to some people, but it’s pretty normal for me. In fact, I think it’s popped up several times before.

On Monday, I blogged about a certain actress Eva Robin’s, whose unique name spelling and she-male status had bypassed me each time I’d seen the Dario Argento film Tenebre. And here I had thought I knew everything there was to know about Tenebre. Not so, even yet. Somehow I missed that the film’s title theme was remade by Justice on the duo’s 2007 track, “Phantom” — a song I own and at one point listened to frequently without ever realizing how much of a debt it owed to a movie I like.

Here’s Justice’s “Phantom”:

And here’s the kickass theme to Tenebre:

The band that plays the Tenebre theme is Italian prog rock group Gobin, who still perform today. Argento featured the band in a number of his films, perhaps most memorably in Suspiria. I had reason to think of the band earlier this week because the trailer for the very gothic and unexpectedly exciting Jane Eyre adaptation by Cary Fukunaga. I swear: Never has Jane Eyre seemed so exciting.

Here’s the trailer:

And here’s the Suspiria theme that is featured in the trailer at about twenty-seven seconds in.

At this point, I should probably point out that this week doesn’t even mark the first time a Dario Argento film was unexpectedly referenced in something else I was enjoying. Comedian Drew Droege has been releasing this awesome videos parodying Chloe Sevign. The Halloween Hallowe’en video uses one of the backgrounds from Suspiria. Watch for it around the 1:10 mark.

So way to go Dario Argento, I guess.

Final note: Now there’s a post tag cluster I never expected to see.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Bad Bouquet

Because everyone has their story to tell.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Eva Robin’s Infamous Thing (Or, The Possessive Androgyne)

So I’m planning a movie night — a double feature of noted WTF-fest Hausu and the similarly weird (but not especially similar) Tenebrae. The former is Japanese and the latter Italian, so I’m tempted to title the night The (Partial) Axis of Horror. Anyway, tonight I ended up on the Wikipedia page for Tenebrae, and though it’s my favorite Dario Argento movie, I still learned something: An actress who plays a minor but important role is (a) biologically male and (b) named Eva Robin’s. With the apostrophe.

Robin’s [no grammatical object supplied]

According to her Wikipedia page:
Contrary to conflicting mentions, Eva currently does spell her last name with an apostrophe in it. She took her nom de plume from a character in Italy’s Diabolik comics, Eva Kant, and writer Harold Robbins. She later saw the name Robbins spelled as Robin’s and decided to take on that particular spelling.
So very strange, and yet apparently true.

Given that Robin’s is male and never underwent sexual reassignment surgery, I feel like having a name that’s constantly in the possessive case but that also lacks a noun leaves the door open to a lot of verbal monkey business. BYO grammatical object? Although with all this focus on the fact that she has her original equipment, I think there’s only one possible noun that we can, ahem, stick into the end.

The trailers, by the way, for Hausu and Tenebrae:

Neither is particularly safe for work, but they are even less so if your office is opposed to over-the-top 70s horror, too-red movie blood and the occasional boob — for artistic purposes, of course.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A Word From the Depths of the Internet

(Spoiler: This post contains ass-paddling.)

Happy weekend. For today, a geeky-minded word-of-the-week:
weeaboo (WEE-ə-boo) — noun: a non Japanese person who favors Japanese culture over his or her own.
Being someone who likes video games and enjoys a significant chunk of what gets shoved under into the “geek culture” label, I’ve run into a few people who might be called weeaboos. Online, I should point out. These folks are indoorsy types, who only brave sunlight to cosplay or perhaps to read manga while sitting on the floor of chain bookstores. I noticed their activity once on IMDb, when I saw that the site lists video games in addition to movies and TV shows and was puzzled that someone had entered the bigger-name classic titles as Sūpā Mario Burazāzu and Sutorīto Faitā. These might be technically more correct in one sense, as they’re literal re-renderings of the Japanese characters that make up these video game titles, but in any other sense it’s ridiculous to insist on transliteration rather than just saying Super Mario Bros. or Street Fighter, especially when the original Japanese titles are supposed to be in English anyway. (That is, you would see Street Fighter on a Japanese game cartridge, not the Japanese characters for “street” and “fighter.”) The IMDb titles have since been fixed, so apparently enough people agreed with me.

But this idiocy, friends, was the work of weeaboos.

The website Know Your Meme explains the history of the term weeaboo. Before 2005, these people would have been called Wapanese — either “wannabe Japanese” or “white Japanese” — but thanks to that source of all things strange and fascinating, 4chan, the term was literally replaced with weeaboo in 2005 when a user hacked the site so that all instances of Wapanese were replaced with a nonsense word from a Perry Bible Fellowship comic.

The name stuck (though sadly the ass-paddling associations did not) and these dorks have been called weeaboos to the point that, according to Know Your Meme, it now gets used more often online than wapanese and the technical term, japanophile. The site also distinguishes weeaboo from otaku, a Japanese word that over there means “fan” or “excessive fan” but over here tends to refer specifically to anime nuts, manga fanatics, or people unnaturally obsessed with Japanese-produced video games. Whereas the otaku simply indulges in their hobby to an unhealthy extent, the weeaboo is the one who addresses you using the Japanese honorific while snacking from a bento box with chopsticks they had imported from Japan, because “they’re just better Japan,” but instead they call it Nippon because that’s what Japanese people call Japan.

I kind of wish equivalent words existed for people obsessed with English, Italian, Spanish or French culture — you know, aside from asshole.

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